DIY Pastel Gold Leaf Art

Over the past couple weeks, Brad and I have been working on some pretty intense projects: Brad built us a king-sized bed, and I re-upholstered a storage bench. Finishing them was really rewarding, but sometimes, you gotta love a quick, easy project like this one.

Back when I shared my office, you may have noticed two pieces of pastel wall art next to my vanity mirror.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - DIY pastel gold leaf art

These probably took about an hour total, and you can get all the supplies at Michael’s or another craft store.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - DIY gold leaf art supplies

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Wrapped canvases (I used Michael’s Artist’s Loft Value Packs in 12″x12″)
  • Acrylic paint
  • A paintbrush
  • Gold leaf sheets
  • Metal leaf adhesive size (the liquid kind, not the spray kind)
  • A foam brush

Step 1: Paint your whole canvas with the paintbrush. I mixed my pastel paint with a little white paint to add some interest. Basically, I added a teeny bit of white paint on top of the pastel paint on my palette, but I didn’t totally mix it in. It makes a pretty, wispy effect when you apply it to the canvas.

Step 2: Wait for the paint to dry. Completely. This is the tough part for me, but it’s necessary, because you don’t want your gold leaf to stick to the paint. I’d recommend waiting at least 24 hours.

Step 3: Apply the adhesive size with the foam brush in whatever design you want for the gold leaf. I essentially just made vertical lines of varying heights on one half of the canvas.

Step 4: Check the instructions on your adhesive size to see how long you need to let it dry. I think with mine, I only needed to wait about 15 minutes, but the times vary depending on the product. To make sure it’s ready, you can tap it with your finger – it should feel tacky, but not wet.

Step 5: When the size is ready, pick up your gold leaf sheets veeery carefully. (They rip easily and can stick to your fingers, so some people use tweezers.) Put them down gently over the general area of your adhesive. You don’t need to be exact – as long as your paint is dry, it’s only going to stick where you applied adhesive.

Step 6: Use the foam brush to gently rub the gold leaf. In the areas where you applied adhesive, the brush will smooth the gold leaf onto the canvas. In the areas where you didn’t apply adhesive, the foam brush will knock the extra gold leaf away. (Note: This part can be messy, so you might want to lay down some newspaper.) If you accidentally scrape some leaf off an area where you wanted it to stick, just grab some of the unused pieces and place them back on to fill in the hole. Dab gently with the brush to stick them down.

And that’s it! You can apply a clear topcoat if you want your art to be extra safe, but I didn’t – I was worried it would take away from the metallic finish.

Glitter and Goat Cheese - DIY aqua and gold leaf art

Glitter and Goat Cheese - DIY pastel pink and gold leaf art

I didn’t actually mean for mine to look like a golden city skyline under a pastel sky – that was a happy accident. You can make any design you want!

So, what are your favorite types of projects? The super complicated but extra rewarding ones, or the easy-peasy fun ones?

  • Even with instructions I still don’t think I could do it. You’ll just have to come to Boston and give me an in-person tutorial 😉

    • I am 100% sure that you could, but nonetheless, I would be thrilled to give you a tutorial as an excuse to hang witchu, girl. 🙂

  • socogrl

    I just stumbled across your blog (a link from the West Elm blog). Love it! I noticed we share a love of gold (and metallics) and DIY. These paintings are gorgeous. I wondered if you have experience using liquid gold leaf products on projects. I have some of that at home, but I’d have to buy traditional gold leafing to recreate your project here. I suppose that on a porous surface, I’d have to use several coats of the liquid gold leaf…

    • Hi there! I’ve used liquid leaf on furniture, but never on canvas. I’m thinking, like you said, you’d need to use quite a bit of it to get even coverage. It’d probably end up being cheaper to just use traditional gold leaf. But I bet you could mix the liquid leaf with paint to get a really cool metallic effect! If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

  • Samantha Baldwin

    Very cool looking.

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